In order to assure authentication methodologies and specifically DNA based techniques, quantifiable reference materials as validation tools in the form of plasmids have been developed. A pool of plasmidic standards has been prepared to be used as reference materials by specialised laboratories and fraud agencies in their DNA techniques for fish authentication. This development has been submitted for a patent application. An Interlaboratory Ring Test has been organised involving 12 research centres and institutions having genetic fish identification services offering authentication analysis to fish industry. The results will be available during the first part of 2008. At the same time, a dynamic DNA database including more than 700 DNA sequences from 53 commercial fish species has been made accessible free by the internet www.azti.es/DNA_database/.
A guide specifically directed for the professionals involved in the traceability chain verification, like quality assurance managers and control authorities, has been published as a web page (http://www.azti.es/valid/). The guide contains the map of indicators of efficiency and reliability of the traceable information for each link of the fishery chain. It gives references to the official methods when approved and to the alternative methods when available. The guide presents a summary for each of the validation tools that have been studied within the VALID project. The summary discusses about the state of the art for each methodology and gives some interesting information about the existing reference methods and other techniques at developmental stage as well as links of interest to get further information or for assessment. The final aim of the guide is to allow verifying that all the critical information is tracked and the reliability of this information validated, becoming a tool for the traceability validation in a specific link on the chain or for the whole chain.
In the validation of the South African hake chain, an innovative flexible tag datalogger with integrated sensors coming from the EU Integrated project GOODFOOD has been used. The tag enabled a continuous control and monitoring of the food chain, reporting the history of the product in terms of traceability and cold chain maintenance. The innovative system:
(1) allowed tracing if the expected temperature range were maintained on the way from the producer to the consumer
(2) provided real-time traceability information of the product to the different fish distribution chain links
(3) allowed getting a better safety and quality control along the complete fish logistic chain
(4) helped to improve the competitiveness of the fish companies and improve their logistic management